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End of the year is a logical time to review one's status, either to identify things that point toward a decent next year or suggest that much improvement is needed. In no particular order, these were the major features of my year 2010:

Professional: In May of this year, I returned to a proper day-job as a working culinarian after years spent in the Exile. This has made all the difference as far as the management of the household economy and my general attitude on the ongoing, intractable need to work for a living. I owe this turn of good fortune to a very dear friend. Since I don't talk specifically about the day job here, and because I do not want to embarrass anyone, I will not mention him by name here. But good friends are things to be thankful for even more so this year than most. 

Homelife: We returned from the Exile this year. Our long, dark, insanely self-imposed sojourn in OKC was finally brought to its blessed bloody end by my partner's clear thinking. Well, Jeff had some help in the form of inheriting enough money to finance a move, but he talked me out of delaying the move until the end of the lease on our OKC home and instead saying "fuck that" and moving months early like we did. This wisdom on his part not only brought the Exile to an end months earlier but made the timing perfect as far as getting my new day job.

Writing: I wrote a lot, but didn't finish very much. On the other hand, I submitted two short stories for publication, which is far more than the zero that I had submitted during the previous three years. Of the two stories that I submitted, both were for specifically-themed publications and both were accepted. That puts my acceptance rate for the year at 100%, bitches! (Only two, I know...but still!) But tempering that success was my epic fail at NaNoWriMo in November. While I did clock about 30,000 words, they were quite a mess. Also, they were 30K words of a thing that needs to be more like 100K to actually be done rather than NaNo's 50K winner threshold. Projects that had fallen more or less into hiatus, like my military sf novel Shame and my non-fiction restaurant memoir/cookbook Stackin' Hogs, did not advance much during 2010, though both did have some words added and neither have been given up upon.

Publishing: If the actual work that I perform to make a living is my "day job," then my other job is as the editor of M-Brane SF and the publisher of the recently retooled M-Brane Press. 2010 was really only my second full year in this role, but it was a big one. Other than edit and publish the monthly issues of M-Brane, I also brought out a couple of single-author collections: Cesar Torres' The 12 Burning Wheels and Derek J. Goodman's Machina. I co-edited with Jaym Gates a one-off (maybe) erotic spec fic zine for Crossed Genres called The Little Death. I also published 2020 Visions, a really remarkable collection of near-future spec fic, edited by Rick Novy. We also started a second zine. Brandon Bell's Fantastique Unfettered published its first issue just a few days ago in a beautiful print edition. But perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the year was the publication of The Aether Age, co-edited by Brandon and me and published by Hadley Rille Books. This one was a long time in process and is absolutely the coolest book of the year, period. There's nothing quite like it. Anyone who thinks they know what it is but hasn't seen it yet is wrong. It may take a few months for the word to spread, but begun the Aether Age has!

Political: My undying disgust for teabaggers, Republicans, and other assorted morons reached new heights in 2010. If anyone had any doubt that American "conservatives" are wholly invested in promoting plutocracy, theocracy, know-nothing-ness and bugfuck dumbassedness, then no one need look any further than than the news of 2010.  I actually don't much care at the moment that these people have taken control of the House of Representatives. In fact, I look forward to how they will have to explain to the public why they want to destroy everything. The public needs a fucking refresher anyway: these are some of the same jackasses (Boehner) who ran the Congress just a few years ago, and now they are joined by some even crazier ones. On the upside: the health care law was passed and so was the REPEAL OF DADT!! In your face, McCain!

Personal: Ten years into the relationship with my significant other, I have never been more in love. This is why I do and care about all the rest of it.

I think that's everything from 2010.
On those rare occasions when I just say "fuck it, I'm sleeping for a long time tonight," and I end up getting about eight or nine more or less uninterrupted hours (usually a couple on the couch until Maus, the cat, ushers me to bed), I tend to have very weird and very long and drawn-out dreams of great detail and complexity (and usually with frustrating story-lines) during the last hour or two in bed. I haven't kept up on these dream journal entries lately (though old ones can be found by the tag below) but this morning's sleep-borne vision was so crazy and so genre-related that I must report it. Readers of more sensitive tastes should leave the room now, for this dream was imbued with the essence of Picard/Riker slash.

I'd imagine that anyone geeky enough to read my LiveJournal knows about slash fiction. But if not, a working definition: a fan-written fiction based on characters from TV, movies, and books centered around a couple of those characters having a (usually homo)sexual relationship with one another. Star Trek slash, centered on Kirk and Spock (K/S was the fanzine genre abbreviation in the old Universal Translator and Datazine guides, and that's where the "slash" came from), dates back almost to the beginning of Trek. 

So, back to my dream...I don't remember everything that happened during the several subjective days that this dream transpired over, but I vividly recall a sequence where I was in bed and naked with another dude. In the dream context, I understood without any difficulty that I was Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D. And I knew that my bed partner--while he did not look anything at all like actor Jonathan Frakes--was, in fact, Commander Riker, my "Number One." So while I looked basically like I do in real life, and while my bed partner looked basically like he does in real life (will not be saying who that real life person is publicly), we were, in fact, Picard and Riker. Except we also had a LOT of tattoos, way more than in real life. But here's where it gets weird and frustrating and starts to bear all the hallmarks of an early-morning dream: I am trying to, ya know, get it on with my Number One but the fact that our bedroom opens into the bridge of the Enterprise proves a constant distraction. People are continually trying to report stuff about the Romulans and some kind of nonsense from the Judge Advocate General's office and facts about the Medusans and shit about the DS9 wormhole, and my "Riker" is very, very interested in all of this minutiae, and I am continually cock-blocked. Until I finally woke up from this crazed Trek-sexual fantasia.

I hope someone reads this and then writes the slash-fic based on it.
Content advisory: this post contains mild references to pornographic media...

I was perusing a few homoerotic websites this morning--purely for purposes of research into a new fiction item that I am contemplating, you know--and I noticed some hilarious oddities in the descriptors posted along with a number of video clips. I wonder if these sites are compiled somewhere abroad and then translated not by actual people with really shaky English, but by computer. A few of the weirdest:

Read more... )

Because the mass-intellect of America as a whole is kind of on the dim side, with only occasional flashes of insight, it really shouldn't be a surprise that there has emerged a fairly large political movement none of the members of which have ever seen Pecker and who are completely humorless about being called "teabaggers" (even though they started it by sending tea bags to the White House; um, yeah, maybe run a quick Google-check before naming your movement next time; I would have seen that coming a mile away). I had been thinking lately that if this were not going on in real life, then it would be really funny...but it wasn't. Until now! 

LOL! That's Christine O'Donnell, the Republican Par-tay's fave for VP Biden's former Senate seat in Delaware. Well, that's not quite true. Actually Republicans who once considered Delaware a realistic pick-up in November are pissed as hell (at their own dumb-ass primary voters) that this crazy creep is now their candidate. Karl Rove fell all over himself the other night blasting her, basically doing the Democrats' work for them. I can't really stomach pulling up any real quotations from Rove, but he basically said that she is a really sketchy character who will certainly move DE from the easy GOP-pick-up column into the easy Dem-hold column this year, basically finishing off even the slim chance of a Repub takeover of the Senate. 

I have looked into her history a bit and it seems to me that she is sort of a dumb person's Sarah Palin. A Palin for people who like to gorge themselves at the Palin trough of right-wing fanaticism but can't quite grasp the delicate nuances of Palin herself. A Palin for people who need their rhetoric more fully pre-digested for easy comprehension. A less "elitist" version of Sarah Palin. A Sarah that talks to them at their own level. Since she has little chance of being elected, and would be a totally inconsequential Senator even if she were elected, I don't worry too much about her teabagger policies. Instead, I like making fun of her dumb-ass attitudes on sex (masturbation is not the answer, boys).

Or it would be fun to make fun of them, but then I always remember that there are lots and lots of people out there laboring under O'Donnell-style freakiness, and a lot of those people are probably experiencing real pain as a result. Teabaggers and "social conservatives," those people who think government has no business offering Social Security or Medicare but who do think that it is the government's business what you do in your bedroom or inside of your uterus, have a deep psychotic dysfunction when it comes to sex. They and their ancestors over the ages have been so successful at promulgating sexual paranoia and psychosis as normal that everyone else on Earth is in the weird position of having to stay quiet about it or sounding all "kinky" and "explicit" and "offensive."  Christine O'Donnell, like her kith and kin, profess to reject any role at all for non-procreative sexuality (despite the fact that nearly all sexuality ends up being non-procreative), and she is on record some time ago as opposing (male) masturbation:

"You're going to be pleasing each other. And if he already knows what pleases him, and he can please himself, then why am I in the picture?"  --Christine O'Donnell

This is, of course, one of the oldest and rustiest saws in the insecure-hetero-chick toolbox, and it's completely laughable...or would be if some people didn't sincerely suspect it's true. Here's the deal, Christine (and all your friends): ejaculation is a physical imperative for human males and it will happen on a routine (if not daily) basis one way or another no matter what you think about it. So get over it. This has been the case since the dawn of humanity, hundreds of millennia before the emergence of your prudish religions and their conception of how everyone ought to live. Looking at just one age cohort, my own (dudes in their late thirties), I don't see a single one of them who has literally tens of thousands of children, so I know for a fact that every single one of them has probably expressed lots and lots of non-procreative male sexuality, sometimes with partners but probably the vast, vast majority of times all by themselves. This is, in fact, the norm. Not O'Donnell's silly view on it, (which happens to match the Catholic Church's official position on it). 

Here's another fact which may astonish social conservatives: even gay males, who supposedly live 24/7 the "Homosexual Lifestyle" in "the Gay Community" (which presumably includes lots and lots of daily anal sex with multiple partners--ask Rick Santorum about that) do not achieve the majority of their ejaculations with their partners any more than straight dudes in general or straight-partnered dudes do. I am sure that there does exist some number of guys, straight and gay, who still sincerely want to bone their partners of ten or twenty or thirty years every day and somehow manage to be granted consent for that, but for the other 99.9999999999999993 percent of us, there is the right hand (or the left if you are a weirdo...--kidding!!)

I recommend to Palin...err, I mean O'Donnell, the following websites. While they are full of cliches--debunking the idea that jacking off makes you go blind is almost as hoary as saying it does--and not necessarily brilliant, they might provide some basic insight into how these things work. This site purports to be a "Male Masturbation Handbook" aimed at young men (even though it seems to be single fairly short item...I'll show you a handbook!), while Jackinworld covers some of the same ground but with a lot more content, some of it interesting and some not. When "Beast" Obama finally sets up the concentration camps that some of the more extreme righties have been warning us of, people like O'Donnell will probably be made to look at websites like those with their eyes forced open Clockwork Orange-style. Just saying.

Unlike many other people, I will not be congratulating, supporting or "understanding" the difficult "personal journey" that has resulted in Ken Mehlman, former chair of the Republican National Committee and the head of W's re-election  campaign in 2004, in coming out as gay. Indeed, I think Mehlman is perhaps the most troubling figure ever to emerge in the so-called "gay community." When I consider how he was an architect of the campaign to re-elect the country's most disastrous President--using the tactic of whipping up anti-gay-marriage hysteria across the country in order to get the fundies and other nitwits to turn out in droves to vote against gays and for W on the same ballot--it makes me shake with rage. When I hear that he will now be an advocate for marriage equality, it makes my stomach turn. While the country is chockablock with crazy homophobes and marriage bigots, it is Mehlman--a gay guy--who actually did the filthy work that has made attaining marriage equality the incredibly difficult task that it is. Because many of things that I'd like to say were already said a couple weeks ago, in a much better way than I could, by Mike Rogers on BlogActive, I will quote at length from that:

So, how can Ken Mehlman redeem himself? I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for being the architect of the 2004 Bush reelection campaign. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for his role in developing strategy that resulted in George W. Bush threatening to veto ENDA or any bill containing hate crimes laws. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for the pressing of two Federal Marriage Amendments as political tools. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for developing the 72-hour strategy, using homophobic churches to become political arms of the GOP before Election Day.

And those state marriage amendments. I want to hear him apologize for every one of those, too.

And then there is one other little thing. You see, while you and I had the horrible feelings of being treated so poorly by our President, while teens were receiving the messaging 'gay is bad' giving them 'permission' to gay bash, while our rights were being stripped away state by state, Ken was out there laughing all the way to the bank. So, if Ken is really sorry, and he very well may be, then all he needs to do is sell his condo and donate the funds to the causes he worked against so hard for all those years. He's done a lot of damage to a lot of organizations, while making a lot of money. A LOT of money. It's time to put his money where his mouth is. Ken Mehlman is sitting in a $3,770,000.00 (that's $3.77 million) condo in Chelsea while we have lost our right to marry in almost 40 states.

THEN, and only then, should Mehlman be welcomed into our community.

I'm a little less generous than that. I don't think there is much of anything Mehlman could do to make me want to welcome him into "our community" ever after what he has done. In fact, if there existed some kind Gay War Crimes Tribunal, I'd call for him to be brought before it and tried for treason.

Oh, and those homophobic churchy groups that Mehlman and his friends mobilized in 2004 to beat back the Homosexual Agenda and help W barely win his election? Here's one of them just a few days ago commenting on this very case, taking current RNC Chair Michael Steele to task for being nice to Mehlman after it was confirmed that he is a "practicing homosexual." Be careful, RNC: it looks like some of your dimwit Bible Troops are starting to get restless with all these gay-ass shenanigans going on at your highest levels.
"Aww, Chris, don't generalize. They don't all think murder is funny," someone might say. And I might reply, "Well, too bad, I am going to tar them all with the same brush just like they do to gay people whenever they feel that their sham heterosexual marriages are on the rocks." Hence: the Tea Party evidently advocates and celebrates and even laughs at the murder of gay people. My evidence for this remarkable blanket condemnation of every single member of anywhere from eleven to seventy-nine percent of the American population is encapsulated in this post on America Blog-Gay, which details how one Tim Ravndal (an American name? doesn't there need to be a vowel more in the middle of that orthographical mess, Tim? "V" followed by "N?" Doesn't look very Mayflower to me, dude, sure you're really an American?) went on Facebook to complain how it's "unconstitutional" to let me get married and went on to pal around with a pro-murder psychopath.

Matthew Shepard

As one can see from the Facebook screen-shot copied on the America Blog page,  this Ravndal douche--the Montana state Teabagger president-- was goaded into making jokes with a homophobe scumbag derived from the facts and iconography of Matthew Shepard's murder. As anyone who knows me at all knows very well, this ongoing hate campaign against Matthew Shepard by right-wing political elements really fucking pushes my rage button. And when such remarks come from two men who are plainly closeted homosexual lovers, it makes me steel my resolve to expose them as the hypocrites that they are.

While I think it's great that the Montana Teabagger high command has removed Ravndal (it's hard to even type that name, it's so "unnatural" and "un-American") from its leadership and stated that they do not tolerate bigotry, I am mystified at the statement from Big Sky Teabagger Board Chair Jim Walker that, "I do believe Mr. Ravndal when he explained that he was in no way intending to promote violence and that he was not thinking about nor condoning the murder of an innocent victim in Wyoming in 1998 when he responded to some very disturbing comments made by another individual."  What exactly about that Facebook exchange makes one think that Ravndal was not condoning such murder? He asked for the fucking manual. What manual would that be? Would it be the one that explains how to beat to death and hang on a fence a faggot?

The formal union of the Teabagger movement and the pan-prejudiced-white-male-cry-baby-piece- of-shit-right-wing was announced by Beck and Palin et thugs in Washington a few days ago. This nonsense in Montana is just one local example.

Just wait.
Recollection of events last night:

We've not seen much of the old neighborhood at night--as in night "life"-- since we returned to STL from the Exile three months ago. I get back from a short shift of day-jobbery, setting up snacks and and a bar for the Mothra-fest at the Garden, and J wonders if I want to go to have a PBR at Urban. That's a bar, sort of "hipster" (but not in an obnoxious mode), that opened up next to our restaurant on Grand back in those great days when we had the restaurant. We liked that place, set up in the shell of an old Vietnamese eatery that moved up the street a few years ago. And its owner was a friend and ally when we were business neighbors, and we hadn't been back there since the Exile. I say, yeah, let's go, and we are somewhat surprised at how hard it is now to park anywhere on the Grand strip. Not that it was ever easy on a Saturday night, but the street is way busier now, even early, it's like 7:30. 

The guy recognizes us immediately, as if almost 3 years haven't passed since we last entered his bar, and he anticipates that we are going to drink bottles of PBR. This sets me at ease because I feel so often, since returning from the Exile, that I will be regarded as a loser, a shell, a ghost of past failure. I've lately been in the weird place of being back in good standing with a former employer; I see people who knew me years ago and probably assumed I was washed away some where. My stuff is still around. A legacy of recipes and other documents exists in the server of my employer's computer network. And everyone knows about the Exile. So again and again, I encounter subtly changed places and people and things from before. It makes me nervous. But at the bar, I relax quickly. We drink for a little while, and then I feel like moving on, seeing some more.

Of course we need to walk right next door and look through the plate glass store front of our old place, our beautiful and beloved Jasoom Restaurant that ate us whole but that I still love in memory. The Ethiopians who now run it fucked and cheated us out of our property. It's a shame because I love Ethiopian food and their restaurant is supposedly well-regarded and they insult us in a deeply painful way simply by being in business longer now than we were. So I'll never eat there. I think they notice us with some vague recognition as we gaze through our (their, fuck them) window. They've expanded into the neighboring space, where the hair salon was (with the hot dude with the tattoos that I liked to look at), and they've built a big bar in the room that was our dining room.  The expansion room is tasteless and poorly appointed--not in the charming and homestyle way of of many real ethnic eateries in the area, but in a I-have-no-style-at-all-and-don't-care-because-I-am-a-str8-dude kind of way. In our old dining room, they have new flooring and new paint. J notices that some our Tiffany-style light fixtures, that he installed himself during one harrowing (for me) night of breakers and wires and caps, are still in there. I notice that the word "RESTAURANT" which I had applied to the front window in white letters was still there, but, of course, the Jasoom logo which had floated above it is long gone. I see the end of the awning where I painted over the words "Cafe-Bistro" left from the French joint that had been there before us, and the paint is wearing away and you can read those words through it again. This stuff makes my eyes tear up and I decide we need to move on.

We visit two other old South Grand haunts. We forget that one of our favorite bars is still cash-only, and we don't have cash. Our friend who runs it is off tonight. We realize that we probably never even did know that the place is cash-only since I don't think we ever actually paid for a beer there back in the day. We move on to Mangia, a long-time fixture of the neighborhood. They make fresh pasta there and it is their pasta that is used in dishes in dozens of other kitchens around the city. Back in the day, it was a somewhat divey joint, kind of dirty in ambience if not in actual dirt, filled with art and old lamps and chrome-legged kitchen tables and really uncomfortable chairs, as if a 1990s raver had appointed it from garage sale finds. A restaurant with respectable food, it was also always one of the few 3am-closing-time bars in the area, and therefore a super-popular hangout for the youngish drinking locals. I hadn't been there in a long, long time. So we go in through the new entrance, through the new expanded area (they, too, blew out into the next storefront) and we barely recognize it because now it is much more orderly, much cleaner, it looks like a high-end restaurant in the West End or Clayton. It's beautiful but devoid of the ambience I was expecting. Until I notice that the chrome-legged tables and crappy chairs are still in the original dining room. We sit at a beautiful bar that is very uncomfortable for us because it doesn't feel familiar. I notice a spectacularly colorful and minutely detailed mural covering most of the wall of the old section behind us. In one tiny portion of its mad flurry of details, infant Romulus and Remus painted as almost fully-formed males suckle the swollen teats of a crazed-looking wolf. It's a lovely place but it's not for us right now. We move on.

I'd be OK with going home at this point. I am kind of cranky for no real reason anyway--low grade crankiness that's been turning on and off all day--and I figure that all we're going to do is sit somewhere drinking, which we can do as comfortably if not more so on the deck behind on our own home. But I get it that this is special that we are out and I feel badly for J because he hasn't been out of the house much since we returned from the Exile. He is having fun being out and I try to work up some of that sense in myself. We can't decide where to go. We leave the Grand area and head over to the Morganford area. We like the Tin Can, but it's about 10pm now and it's too crowded. We're both crabby about being in certain kinds of crowds. He suggests going to a gay bar--the very thing that he normally never wants to do--but I say no, I don't want to. He persists and names a bar over in the Manchester/Choteau "Grove" area. It was an old "troll" bar. Fuck no, I say. I don't want to go to a gay bar anyway, and certainly not a troll bar. Come on, he says, everyone will be so old and run-down that it will make us feel hot by comparison. That actually appeals to me a bit: I have been feeling somewhat old and unattractive myself lately.

The area that they call the Grove now used to be a blighted stretch of old derelict commercial buildings and abandoned housing. For many years the lesbians and gays maintained a handful of outposts in the midst of that, bars like Novack's and Attitudes. In urban areas again and again, our people lead the renaissance by being the pioneers back into the dead zones that white flight left behind in the 20th century. The gays are still in the Grove and probably in even larger numbers now, but there are a lot more people and businesses there now, too. We hear loud live reggae music emanating from one of the newer establishments, and J wants to stop there. But then I realize that we still don't have cash and we won't get into a single one of the joints in this neighborhood without paying a cover. I get really cranky again. We need to hit an ATM but he doesn't have his card (to which we know the PIN), just mine (to which I do NOT know the PIN). We need to go home and get either his card or the scrap of paper that has my PIN on it. The car needs gas and is chiming for it. J wants cigarettes. I see a cycle of hassles in front of me. J doesn't think I am any fun, and I don't think I am any fun either. I want to be fun, but I get crankier. I repress the crankiness and say that we will run home, get the other card, get gas, get cigs, get cash and go back. And have fun.

Once on the ground, we somehow don't think that paying the cover and actually entering any of the places is as appealing as it seemed from the car. We spot a sign in front of one bar stating "No cover tonight!" and we decide we'll stop there and decide if we have the stamina to take in any music at one of the other spots. J looks around trying to figure out where exactly he is. The neighborhood has changed a lot. "There's Novack's," I say, pointing across the street. Then I point eastward on our side of the street toward another landmark he would recognize. He gets  reoriented, and then I realize that the bar that we about to enter, now called "Just John's," is in the space that used to be called Freddie's. Years ago, on a similar outing, we picked up a stray there. Inside, it looked much the same, but redecorated and repurposed a bit. Inside, a shirtless bartender has the bar's logo tattooed on his chest. I hope he is the actual owner of the place because otherwise it seems a mistake to put the name of a place that you work on your body in indelible ink. It's very crowded, very noisy and I am still fairly cranky, but I feel like I can relax a little bit since J seems to still be having fun.

Gay-bar-cruiser mode kicks in a bit, a reflex: I am glad that the crowd as a whole seems pretty average in appearance, no real over-representation of very hot dudes nor very non-hot ones, and not overly young on average. Since I've been feeling kind of aged and schlubby lately (and had not prepared myself for a "gay" outing), I take cheer in the fact that it's not all cute 22-year-olds in here nor too many raging hipsters. I feel that I fit in credibly with the median profile here. While I am not heinous in appearance, I am not hot either. I'm not young anymore either, but I have actually improved with age and can usually pass for a few years younger if I want to. Until my ancient soul speaks, a soul that was old when I was 12, but I don't plan to speak to anyone other than J, which I do with a lot of hoarse shouting because the music and crowd noise is such that we need to repeat ourselves a lot. Maybe we are too old for this. 

At some point, we move to an outdoor tiki bar area behind the main space and J scores a seat at the bar. I stand next to him and we talk about random things at high volume. He is smiling unselfconsciously and looks about 23 and is very, very cute. He talks about Lady Gaga, whose music and music videos seem to dominate the audio-video system throughout this multi-bar compound. I notice the music shift into something by New Order--"Blue Monday" I think it was--and I notice every guy in the place who is paying attention to the music (or  not) react in at least some subtle way to it, if not dancing outright. This bouncing, bobbing boy near J's barstool catches my eye. I'd noticed he'd been mouthing with great enthusiasm the Gaga song immediately preceding. He is a short, scrawny, somewhat funny-looking kid who was certainly born well after New Order made that song. He is beautiful. I wonder if he really knows the song or is just reacting in a primal way as he dances and bobs to it with even greater enthusiasm than he seems to have had for Lady Gaga. I remember that I've thought the thought before that there is universal appeal in New Order for Anglophone gay boys regardless of age and background, as if there is a switch in the hardware of our genes or the software of our hormones that gets flipped when our bodies hear it. It delights me that I see the goofy-looking beautiful youngster reacting in the same way as the 50-year-old just a few feet away from him.

Eventually we make our way back home. I wonder, in a Vulcan-like way, if we had the desired "fun" the quest for which seemed to motivate this rare outing. I think possibly so, and J's mood is good, and I am less cranky.
I've been advised more than once to not let myself become too exercised over the excesses of the Westboro cult, that grotesquely inbred family from Kansas that forms a so-called church based entirely upon homophobia. They're the ones famous for their "God Hates Fags" signs and stickers.  They are, of course, a tiny group of people and are regarded as patently absurd by nearly everyone. So why bother worrying about such losers? The vast hinterlands of America, are after all, crawling with regular everyday garden variety bigotry, so why pay attention to the fringiest of the loony fringe?

Because they cross a line that I cannot stomach seeing crossed by their practice during the recent war years of picketing military funerals. For them to try to turn what has got to be the worst moment of a parent's life--burying his or her son as a casualty of war--into a petty platform to propagate their hate agenda has got to rank as one of the most disgusting things that we are expected to put up with as Americans. For them to claim on their announcements that a soldier died to protect their freedom to act this way is a fucking lie. If that were true, then the war and the sacrifice of everyone who has died in it was truly for nothing. And for them to make this claim on an announcement that declares that God himself is at war with America, and to end it by exclaiming "Thanks God for IEDs" must offend any halfway reasonable American regardless of politics or religion.

On Monday morning, these scumbags plan to defile the memorial for Petty Office Jarod Newlove at the Catholic Church at 9622 20th Ave SW in Seattle WA.  That same day, they plan to set upon the memorial for Lance Corporal Shane Martin at the Catholic church at 19222 State Highway 249, Houston TX. I hope that in both place, people find a way to turn out in some kind of mass large and obstructive enough to deny the Westboro pieces of shit the ability to approach these events and spare the families of these fallen servicemen the sight of such filth anywhere near their memorial services.

Yeah, I get it: it's just a handful of evil lunatics. But what they represent pervades the culture in various other ways. They showed up on my radar years ago with their website counting the days that Matthew Shepard was burning in hell. The hate-invocation of Shepard by homophobes continues to this day in all kinds of places. It shows up on the floor of the US Congress as when, last year during debate on the Federal Hate Crimes law that bears Matthew's name, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (Cunt-NC) said the whole story of what happened to that kid was a "hoax"...while Shepard's mother was there to witness final debate and passage of the law. In more obscure places, one sees thing like internet posts from the likes of godawful hack "writer"/"publisher" Nickolaus Pacione saying, "I think homosexuality of any kind is an abomination. I know that you ... worship Matt Shepard. The fag didn’t die on the cross for you." So it's really not just the Westboro freaks who are like this. They may be an an extreme and tres sickening manifestation of it, but their dumbassity can be found in many other dirty corners and right out in public on the floor of the House.

And I'd just leave it at that and write them off as a bunch of dumbass losers, but the funeral picketing is taking it too far. I hope that more people will keep tabs on such activities and try to disrupt them by some sort of peaceful but very disruptive means whenever possible. 
Nothing I can say about marriage equality that I haven't said before or that the judge in today's ruling Prop 8 did not say better:

"Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result... moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.

"Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8."

Why did Americans ever think in the first place that it's right and fair to put other people's civil rights up for popular vote? 

NOM: Losers

Jul. 29th, 2010 10:15 pm
mbranesf: (Default)
 The person who made this sign to display at a recent NOM "rally" is a piece of shit:

Also, NOM itself is fucking pathetic with their sad little "One Man One Woman" tour. When the COUNTER-demonstration outnumbers by five and tens time the size of their demonstration, then that's some really sad crap. Sad for them, anyway. To me it's hilarious iwhen they manage to draw together literally tens of people (like 45 or 50 at a recent in Wisconsin) and then 400 supporters of marriage equality appear to counter them.

Courage Campaign has been running a "NOM Tour Tracker" site to keep tabs on these creeps and let people know when they might attempt one of their dumb hate rallies in one's own town. While NOM itself is a pitiful pile of crap of an organization, it's probably wise to keep notes on the movements and activities of such groups because they tend to be magnets for potentially dangerous psychotics such the douche who made that sign, which I take as advocating the murder of my partner and me.

(Also, I noticed that the sign says something at the bottom about a "Cross Bearer Ministry." I don't know what that is, but if it's those people who tow around the big wooden crosses on wheels, then that makes it all the more stupid.)
I don't "emo" still a thing?  I am so not up-to-date and unhip, so I don't know. I see dudes who look like "emo boys" fairly often, but I don't know if they are still called that. Back in my day, they were sometimes called "alternative" or "goth" (depending on level of darkness) or, less charitably, "fags."  Well, whether the terminology is current or not, I can say that I wholeheartedly endorse the premise of such boys kissing one another, making out, groping and teasing with the prospect that maybe, just maybe, they will full-on do each other. So how did I get off on this weird tangent?

Well, I was doing some research for a work-in-progress and wanted a picture of two dudes kissing that I could use for reference as I described my handsome characters doing the same. Words were failing me, and my description was falling flat, so I figured if I had a still image in front of me showing what I was after, then I could get the details of how their mouths and eyes should look like and where their hands ought to be (assuming they were somewhere other than in each others' crotches). A Google search for "dudes kissing" quickly brought to the websites Emo Corner and EmoBucket, the main attraction of both (at least from my standpoint) being photos of emo boys kissing. While EmoBucket seems to have a lot more photos of more different dudes doing this than Emo Corner does, Emo Corner offers this odd bit of information: 

"Emo boys kissing.yummy. Considered to be the hottest thing in the emo scene. Usually there is no attraction behind the act of emo guys kissing [italics mine] They just do it because they can, and they know girls think it's hot! Boy, are they right, there is just something about it that makes chicks just want to see more. However, sometimes there is a attraction behind the kiss."

Ahem!  I see. So, if true, these boys sucking each other's faces off and swallowing each other's spit are probably actually mostly str8 buddies just having a good time, enjoying each other's company in their emo style, with the added benefit of being all fucking HAWT in front of (even FOR!) their girlfriends. If this is actually true, then good for them. But...hmmm. Don't get me wrong: I would love it if it were true that there exists a subculture of str8 boys who are totally cool with kissing each other even as they ready themselves for a night of str8 sex with the girlfriends that they are turning on with their lip-locking. But I have some doubt.

Here's a fan-video documenting the phenomenon. Yeah, no attraction there at all.

Dear Live Journal,

How I have missed you!  I can't believe I have not posted since Father's Day, but I have been very busy. Also, strange bouts of desperately-needing-to-sleep have been disrupting my schedule. I've been having weird River-Phoenix-in-My-Own-Private-Idaho moments off an on during recent evenings.

Other than the new issue of M-Brane SF coming out the other day, and the release of the Aether Age trailer, my big news this week is that my new short story "The Cairn" will appear in Library of the Living Dead Press' antho Zombiality: A Queer Bent on the Undead. I am very excited about this for a number of reasons: 1) it's a fresh new story and is already going out there; 2) I have been plagued by irrational fear of showing my fiction to editors and didn't do so for a number of years; this year, I have risked it twice and been accepted twice, so that helps my attitude a lot; 3) This particular book was announced a while back and then apparently cancelled for a while, much to many people's disappointment. But then it got back on the calendar, and when it did, I became fairly determined to write something for it; and 4) While I have written and published some horror before, this is my first real attempt to work in the zombie sub-genre, and it was fun.

While I say it's a fresh new story, I have to qualify that by saying that it contains pieces of characters and situations that I mined from my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel Days of the Dust and Diane Rehm Show. I lifted out of that story its two main characters, more or less intact, and then put them in a much more fucked-up situation than what they faced in their previous incarnation. It's the "what if" thing that I guess gets anyone who ever writes anything going. In the older story with these guys, there is a moment early on where the whole thing could have gone down a very different path than it did (especially true during the NaNoWriMo rushed totally-unplanned writing that I was doing). So when I was wondering what I could come up with for a zombie story involving gay characters, I remembered that and decided to take one of those other possible forks in the road. 
Did you hear about the French McDonald's commercial focused on a gay teenager, and how Fox News thug Bill O'Reilly said it was tantamount to having ads inviting al Qaeda to McDonald's? GLAAD has this protest-to-Fox-News campaign in process, which includes a petition text that one may send to various Fox News executives (emails provided). While I support the idea of protesting about that ludicrous TV channel in general due its very existence and its generally offensive tone and character and the disagreeable sight and sound of most if its on-air personalities, and while I did actually send off my own abbreviated version of their petition letter to a couple of those emails, I will be shocked if any Fox people or O'Reilly himself apologize over this.

Why would they? Hating gay people is the stock-in-trade of media outlets like Fox, it's the very stuff of life for them. And while deriding gay people is great for them, deriding gay kids is even better. O'Reilly is by his very nature a jerk and a bully and a bitter old man, and gay teens are practically tailor-made for bullying in the kind of world Fox would like to create. Embedded below is the ad with the gay kid. Even though it's for a fast-food chain that I like about as well as O'Reilly, this ad is sweet and its appearance here causes the unprecedented situation of me applying both the "douchebaggery" (for O'Reilly) and "anti-douchebaggery" (for McDonald's) tags to this single post. 

I won't go on at length about this one. You can, if you really want to, read the details here at TPM . The gist of it is that the Family Research Council claims that their "research" has proven that the repeal of the dumbassed Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell law for the US military will ipso facto result in a lot of gay-perpetrated rapes of innocent str8 servicemen, blah, blah, blah-blah, blah. Also, if you dig pain, like to puke, and you crave even more exposure to sociopathic fucknuttedness, over on the right hand side of the TPM page is a link to another article about one of these dickbags claiming that Hitler and his whole Holocaust operation was a gay project.

The only reason I mention the whole dumbassity here at all is that I don't think I have yet bothered to highlight the Family Research Council in particular as one of the most bugfuck, batshit, looney-tunes, froot-looped boatload of gibbering morons that ever blighted this vale of tears. Even in a land stacked to the rafters with psychotic bigotry, they manage to stand out from the heap of worn-out discarded old shit, like a sleet of bat guano overlaying an attic full of someone's redneck grandpa's Klan memorabilia. To borrow some verbiage from the venerable Harlan Ellison, "I do not think I demean them much by perceiving them as creeps, meatheads, clods, fruitcakes, nincompoops, amoeba-brains, yoyos, yipyops, kadodies and clodhoppers."

In case you didn't bother to click over to the TPM article and decided to just take my word for it, I am copying here the picture that they used of one Peter Sprigg, "Senior Fellow for Policy Studies" at the Family Research Council. Don't let the haircut fool you: in fact, it's a dead giveaway. Peter Sprigg is almost certainly a bitter closeted homosexual. They all look and act more or less like this when they get into these kinds of jobs where they can work out their personal pain by amping up mouth-frothing insanity against their own kind. Remember this image. If you don't see Mr. Sprigg himself, you will see someone exactly like him someday and you will know the truth.

This is a sad topic for me. Readers of this journal may recall a few months ago when I posted this entry directing people to a fascinating blog by someone purporting to be a 17-year-old in-the-closet gay boy by the pseudonym of "Mikey" who was a hockey player and a huge sports fan. While I am not myself any kind of hockey fan and would generally not be interested in a sports-related blog, I found Mikey's page quite engrossing, entertaining and often rather touching. But according to this rather extensive article on Outsports, posted a few days ago, Mikey was make-believe, a sham, a fantasy created by a man decades older than his online persona. If what that article contends is true, then there never was a Mikey, just an older dude who let a vast complex of fantasies and fabrications get out of control until he was exposed.

Well, before I get into what I think of all that, I'd like to say that I wish that there was really a Mikey, and I am sure that there are, in fact, many of them around the country and I hope that they have someone real that they can look to and confide in and borrow strength from. Whether this Mikey was real or not, it can still be a rotten deal to be a gay kid.

I suspect a lot of people who followed Mikey or even heard about this situation second-hand probably think that Mikey's creator is a jerk or pathetic or maybe an asshole, or at least a very, very untrustworthy person. I feel somewhat differently because I can understand the dude's motivations on some level. If the case presented in the Outsports article is true, then Mikey's creator is pushing 50 years old. This, combined with some other facts alleged in that article, paint a picture of a gay man who is probably living a very tortured double life: in the closet around most anyone who knows him in "real life," while trying to find some way to be at least a little bit of who he really is in the online world. This situation is totally commonplace, unfortunately, and while it's not necessarily age-related, it's got to be a hell of lot harder being a fifty-year-old closeted gay dude than a 20 or 30-year-old "out" one. At age 38, I am old enough already to have seen how dramatically things have shifted culturally in favor of being out, at least in the civilized non-fundie non-teabagger parts of the country. Sometimes I look at my younger "brothers" who just don't get it just because they're too young to remember...and they're only like ten years younger and I feel old as hell already. So, anyway, I'm not angry with faux-Mikey for this fraud, but I do feel badly for him and I hope he does well for himself somehow.

But this brings to mind the topic of "reality" in media, one that I think about a lot. People nowadays seem to be obsessed with reality and place a high value on what's "real." But isn't it funny that the surfeit of televised garbage, that swamping tide of shit that is called "reality TV" is probably the most fictitious, non-real stuff ever concocted? See Macbeth presented on stage, or read Dhalgren--these are works of fiction but they contain in just a few pages more "reality" than an entire season of Celebrity Apprentice and Big Brother combined. Consider that scandal a few years ago over James Frey and his "memoir" that turned out to be largely a fabrication. It got crazy attention because Oprah picked it for her book club (which made it a bestseller upon receiving the Big O's imprimatur), and then became a big scandal after the truth came out. Oprah summoned the author to her show to be dressed down on TV, and O's fans thought it was a horrible insult and tragedy, blah, blah, blah. But this is the question I had from the start: So the fuck what? If the book was good enough to get the O Seal of Approval, then didn't she think it was well-written, told a worthwhile story, and (therefore!) contained...truth? I didn't follow the whole fooforaw too closely, but I remember hearing that Frey claimed that he originally intended to sell his book as a novel but was advised to present instead it as a memoir. Why? Because memoirs sell better than novels. Why? Because what little remains of any American reading public overwhelmingly prefers nonfiction. Why? Because it's "real." 

I don't know if Frey's book was any good or not, and probably never will read it because its subject matter is about as interesting to me as, well, a sports blog. Also, I'd rather read a novel than a memoir most any day. They read as more "real" to me.

Last point: The dude who created Mikey did a really great job at his fiction. I don't feel badly at all that I was suckered by his creation because it was so believable and richly realized. If I could contact him directly, I'd give him this advice: next time, write a novel. (And don't call it a memoir!)
We're visiting STL this week to do the search for our new home. Sleeping in an unfamiliar bed tends to do interesting things to my dreams. The dreamscape during the last hour or so of sleep this morning was an especially vivid and especially confusing jumble of images and scenarios drawn from a huge number of sources. It's too much to recount in full, and much of the detail is slipping out of memory, but several items that I do recall seem to have the same underlying anxiety:

1) During a scene where I was part of a large group with a number of cars among us, and where we were all in a hurry to leave where we were and meet up at another location, I spilled a take-out container of kim chee on the floor of the passenger side of my car. I wanted to take a minute to clean it up because I thought it would spoil, soak into the carpet, make the interior of the car smell like kim chee forever. Then I realized that it wasn't actually in my own car that I spilled the food, but in a friend's car which was identical to mine. So I decided to just leave it since I hadn't been caught.

2) In another sequence, I was apparently living in a college housing situation, much like the on-campus house that I shared with a few other kids during my second year of college. My father visited and for some reason I didn't want my housemates to see him, as if I were embarrassed by his presence. So I ushered him into the house as quickly and surreptitiously as possible. But then he asked if I had any food in the house, which seemed very out of character for him. I looked in a refrigerator which was stuffed with what looked like old fast food bags and wrappers and other trash. In this mess was a full sandwich from Subway. I handed that to my dad, certain that I was probably stealing someone's else's lunch, and ushered him upstairs to my quarters to get him and the evidence of my theft out of sight. Then, in my room, evidence was strewn about that I had recently had a lover in my room: pants and a shirt that were not mine lying on the floor, underwear that was not mine on the rumpled bed, and the sound of a shower running in the next room. I struggled to find a way to distract attention from this evidence, not wanting to be caught.

3) Later, I was in a building that was a mash-up of both the middle school and high school that I attended in real life, with elements of the Saint Louis Art Museum. This was one of the longest and most tedious sequences of this morning's dreams, as I navigated through claustrophobic corridors and rooms with impossible angles and walls too close together. But eventually I was in a gym locker room (one equipped with industrial kitchen appliances) with a dude that I used to know from college days. I was supposed to boil water for pasta, but he was undressing to take a shower and I decided that I needed to do that, too. It was really just a flimsy pretext to get up close and naked with him, and I decided to hurry up and do it because I knew that Jeff and other people would soon arrive for dinner and I didn't want him to see me in the shower with this other dude because I knew he would know that I was doing it for reasons other than just getting clean.

And there was more of this, but too much and too tedious to recount. For some reason, these dreams all had something to do with me sneaking about and trying to conceal bad behavior or facts that would be embarrassing. I have no idea why this would be subconscious theme today. In real life, I don't behave like this. I would never consider leaving a kim chee spill in someone else's car. I wouldn't steal food from a roommate, nor would I invite my parents into my bedroom if there was evidence of my romantic activities lying about (nor would I ever consider having guests in my room at all with the bed unmade or anything out of place--we are very neat in real life). Were something like the school gym/kitchen/shower scenario to become available in real life, far from hiding it from Jeff, I would probably try to convince him to join in. I feel rather unsettled with all of this, and hope that my next sleep session is not similar.
I hate how so many people that I remember from the movies of my youth and coming-of-age are already dead. I just heard that we lost Corey Haim (same age as me) today. He, like that other Corey with whom he was often paired, had one of those long career declines as an actor that sadly started pretty much right after its teenage apex. Yeah, he had embarrassing personal problems that made tabloid news. He had the abortive attempts at career-reboot, even doing a reality show with Feldman. But I loved Corey Haim, and I will never ever forget the deep impression he made on me with his breakout role as Sam in the 1980's vampire classic The Lost Boys.


Way back before anyone that I knew personally considered the issue, and way before I understood much about myself, I took Corey Haim's character in that film to be gay. I do not know if this is generally accepted as "fact" nowadays, and haven't really heard anyone else talk about it. I didn't Google up any "research" on it either, because I figured I'd hit on a bunch of snark and stupid jokes which would anger me today. I don't know if Sam was gay, but that's the way I "read" the character when I saw the movie as a teenager, and I came away with that impression even while being still too naive to understand some of the indicators of it that the film now seems to be strewn with (stuff like the sexy Rob Lowe poster on Sam's closet door and some other set details like that). When I see Corey Haim as Sam, I see an actor who successfully played a teenage character who happens to be gay. Not a character where his gayness has anything particularly to do with what the story is about, but one who is incidentally gay. I have no idea if that was at all the intent, but it was the effect for me, and it's something that I don't think I have seen in any other horror genre film, and certainly not anything else from that era. 
I will almost certainly attempt, as a near-future project for M-Brane, the publication of a book designed in the style of one of the old Ace Doubles, a book with a couple of short novels or novellas printed back-to-back in the same volume, each with their own cover art. The image below is an example of one (if you could flip it over, you'd see the cover of the other story with which it was bound). I think I will attempt to replicate that old sf paperback look as well, and get some really cool cover art for it. If it works out once, then I may try to make it a regular series (in fact, I think may have the content in hand for the first such book already). Writers sometimes tell me that they can't find markets for their mid-length stuff, those stories that aren't full-length novels but are still way above most zines' word count limits. The novella was once considered to be an ideal form for science fiction, and it seems a shame that so few editors are interested in them. The Ace Doubles were entirely made up of short novels and novellas. Indeed, long sf novels were not as commonplace in the 1960s and what ones there were often got their first printing as magazine serials. I don't really want to lock into serials for the regular run of M-Brane but the Doubles concept could be a good way to get some cool longer stories out there.

Another old largely vanished kind of novel for which I have some nostalgia is the trashy pulp gay porn novel. While it's true that there is still plenty of such fiction being written, there remains something pretty cool about old books like the one pictured here, relics of an age before the widespread availability of sexually explicit films and magazines with pictures. 

It occurred to me that if the Doubles plan takes off, I could maybe do a volume someday combining the concepts: a double composed of two short novels that are science fiction AND gay porn. Most of those sex books like the one above were pretty trashy from a writing standpoint, but what if I could get hold of some finely written trash? Some science fiction which is beautifully and literarily written but also chockfull of explicit sex. It would rule, that's what.
I think I might spend too many of my posts here complaining about ugliness, douchebaggery and decrosion. Be assured that I'm still going to do plenty of that in the future, but I am also going to make a more frequent point of highlighting beauty, anti-douchebaggery and awesome-sauce. So today I am directing everyone's attention to this fascinating blog by Mikey, the gay Minnesota hockey kid.

Yeah, I know, I am not a big sports dude. In fact, I'm probably about the furthest thing from it in all the intertubes, so it's a bit unusual that I am pointing people to what is in large part a sports-oriented blog. But I can't get enough of this one for some reason. Mikey's site is a remarkably honest, raw and often touching window into the life and thoughts of a kind of boy that it's gotta be really, really hard to be some days: a gay teenage athlete who is into playing hockey. Gay kids get a really shitty deal anyway: most of them have to grow through youth and adolescence denying who they really are, hiding their real nature, being afraid of being found out, pretending to be str8, and generally being made to feel like hell because of a characteristic that is as natural and normal as left-handedness or blue-eyedness..except left-handed blue-eyed people don't generally get verbally abused or physically assaulted for those things, nor do they often get suicidal about it. For a gay kid who loves sports and wants to play on a team, that probably adds another dimension of potential pain.

I never played any sports myself, so I don't have the experience of it, but I have always assumed (just based on the way that dudes treat each other in group situations) that hockey teams or any kind of team like that must be hot little pits of homophobia.  I am hoping that this is less true now than it probably was when I was a kid (If you read this, Mikey, I am older than hell, I was in college when you were born). But I don't know, since I wasn't part of it then and am obviously not now. Indeed, I think the only times the concepts of "gay" and "hockey" have linked up in my brain is when I would use that 1986 hockey movie Youngblood and its images of a young Rob Lowe's hot bare ass as porn back when I was Mikey's age...ok, well maybe that was just a few days ago, but still...

There wasn't even a web and websites and blogs back when I was that age (fuck, I feel sooo frakkin old already!), but if there had been such things back in the mid-80s, then it would have been the bravest boy ever who would have risked putting himself out there as a gay hockey kid with a blog like this. And it's still  true even now in our slightly more tolerant era. Mikey's site is thrilling in its courage, deeply charming in its honesty and, once in a while, pretty heartbreaking, too, such as the way that he reveals that the younger of his two brothers and one of his friends are the only two people in "real" life who know about his gayness. And, of course, the rest of us who know him about him in webspace. I know, know, and know what that must feel like. A lot of people in meatspace don't know about me either despite how out there I am in my online life.

Seventeen is a really weird age for any dude to be anyway: already totally a man and yet still totally a boy at the same time, and very, very, very much needing respect, love, a hug and a fucking break. So being all of that AND gay AND a hockey player has got to be all kinds of challenging. This kid is doing an awesome job of it.

[By the way, thanks to my Twitter friend, the writer Kelly Barnhill, who tweeted the link to Mikey's page yesterday--that's how I found out about him.]
 Read this post at Brandon Bell's blog about the Uganda anti-gay law. It's time for people to stand up and do something about the evil in our own midst, and this situation highlights it.